Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński has suggested that Donald Tusk’s government could carry out “political assassinations”. The remarks prompted a strong rebuke from the speaker of parliament, who accused Kaczyński of “beating the drum of Russian propaganda”.
Kaczyński’s national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party was removed from government in December by a more liberal coalition led by Tusk. Since then, PiS has repeatedly accused the new administration of violating the rule of law and endangering democracy.
That conflict further escalated on Wednesday this week, when Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik – two PiS politicians recently jailed for abuse of power but then quickly pardoned by PiS-aligned President Andrzej Duda – tried to enter parliament to continue sitting as MPs.
— Konrad Mzyk (@KonradMzyk) February 7, 2024
The parliamentary authorities say that the pair’s mandates expired when they were convicted in December. That resulted in dramatic scenes as PiS politicians clashed outside parliament with uniformed officers who were preventing Kamiński and Wąsik from entering the building.
Speaking on Thursday to journalists in the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, Kaczyński was asked about the incident and what may happen next.
“Anything can be expected from this government, which constantly breaks the law, even political assassinations,” said the PiS chairman.
Mocne słowa J. Kaczyńskiego! „Ze strony tej władzy, która łamie prawo, można spodziewać się wszystkiego, nawet zabójstw politycznych” https://t.co/HiuWU8u3Mv
— wPolityce.pl (@wPolityce_pl) February 8, 2024
His comments were quickly condemned by figures from the ruling coalition, including the speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, who called them “idiotic”.
“These words do terrible damage to Poland, because they go out into the world and show our country, where a normal, democratic transition of power is taking place, as a place where a coup d’état is happening, where political assassinations are planned,” said Hołownia.
“Does Kaczyński realise what a gift he is giving to Russian propaganda with such words?” continued Hołownia. “His words will be in all the Russian newspapers. Does he understand the process he is participating in? He is beating the drum of Russian propaganda.”
“It is very sad to look at someone who is so dramatically unable to lose, who has such a terrible idea of what next steps to take,” added the speaker.
— WPROST.pl (@TygodnikWPROST) February 8, 2024
PiS’s deputy leader and former prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, however, defended Kaczyński’s remarks when asked about them later on Thursday.
“We must warn about what may happen, because the escalation we are dealing with on the part of those in power is really dangerous,” said Morawiecki, quoted by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
He noted that in 2010, a member of staff in a PiS politician’s office was shot dead by a man who had previously been a member of Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) party. However, there was never any suggestion that PO had anything to do with the incident.
Mateusz Morawiecki o słowach prezesa PiS: trzeba przestrzegać przed tym, co może nastąpić#PAPinformacje https://t.co/4nbg36jpCP
— PAP (@PAPinformacje) February 8, 2024
Since PiS lost its majority at October’s parliamentary elections, Kaczyński has regularly resorted to extreme rhetoric regarding the new ruling coalition. He described Tusk as a “German agent” and suggested that Russia may be behind Hołownia’s Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) party.
Last month, the PiS chairman said that his party could use “various methods” to force new elections because the new government was “violating the constitution”.
Tusk responded by accusing Kaczyński of being “increasingly detached from reality” and of apparently “having a coup d’etat in mind”. A few days later, Kaczyński likened Tusk to Hitler.
Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński has likened Prime Minister @donaldtusk to Hitler.
He also accused Tusk of wanting to turn Poles into “farmhands for Germany” and of trying to stifle media freedom like the communists did https://t.co/1aOstSY9dP
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 28, 2024
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Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.